Where Has the Summer Gone and Where Have I Been?

You would think summer would be the time when I am on point with my blogging but this summer has proved that theory wrong! Between vacations, a summer class, yoga, crossfit, running, enjoying the outside and now school starting, I have not had the time or desire to be glued to my iPad to type up posts.

I do not know where to begin on this recap so I will start with some key events and memories from the past couple of months

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The week after the San Francisco Marathon, I was back on a plane heading to Wiscounsin for a family reunion!  My first run back after taking some time off from running post-Marathon was a quiet 7-miler along a hilly road in Wiscounsin.  Who knew Wiscounsin was so hilly!

Another great memory from this summer (end of August) …MY FIRST RELAY!

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I did the 100 on 100 Vermont Relay which starts in Stowe, Vermont and finished right in Okemo. My mom was part of a team and one of the females was injured so I volunteered to take her spot.  I had no idea what to expect but figured if I could run 26.2 then I could run my total of 16 throughout the day.  Though it sounded logical and certainly manageable, I did not expect it to be as difficult and fun as it was!  We stayed the night in Stowe and woke up early to make our 7am start time.  And by our, I mean the woman who was doing our first leg.  I was the last leg so I didn’t start until 11ish.  Right as a the sun was starting to beam. Lovely. 

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My first leg was 5.8 miles, my second leg was 5.2 miles and my third leg was 4.8 miles.  It is safe to say that I experienced all the climate changes throughout the day.  It began to downpour during my second leg which actually made me concentrate less on how miserable I was and more on just trying to hurry up and get out of the rain.

Leg 2 was definitely the most challenging.

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People said that leg 2 is where you loosen up but it was the exact opposite for me.  This is where I felt the tightest.  Thankfully the rain gave me the kick I needed to finish up the final 2 miles.

Leg 3 was actually my favorite!  I never run at night or with a headlamp or through trails so this leg was pretty exciting.

imageI quickly found out that the headlamp does not replace a street light.  I had very little light and the trail-type road was not helping with the struggle.  As much as I would have liked to move faster – not spraining an ankle took some priority and I just focused on my stepping.  Around mile 3 I met up with a runner and we decided that if we wanted to finish this thing with ankles still attached to our legs, it was best that we stay together and use some teamwork headlamp action.  It worked perfectly and the miles (it was only 2 but after a long day, that seemed like a lot) just seemed to fly by as we were chatting.  Before I knew it, we were approaching our final hill that led us right into the lodge.  The buffet table was in the same area so it almost felt like I was running straight toward the buffet line…which isn’t a bad way to end a race. 😉 After a day of eating/drinking just electrolytes, gels, bananas and nuts, it felt great to have a real meal!  Even if it was 11 o’clock at night. 

I have also finally made my way to local Thursday night 5ks.

imageThe races go on for 12 weeks and you accumulate points every time you race.  The better you perform, the more points you get at each race, however, if you miss just one week, you miss out on the points and can drop significantly.  Every year, I say I am going to start at the beginning and try to get the most points but once again, I don’t start until much later and have missed so many points that even my wins will not bring me up.  Points aside, they have been nice Thursday night runs and every week I go into the race telling myself that I am just running for fun.  I do Crossfit on Thursday mornings so my legs are never feeling race-ready but for some crazy reason, every time that gun goes off, my soreness goes away, I stay relaxed and manage to pace myself perfectly.  And with great pacing and low stress, I have been getting some pretty solid times and have consistently been placing 2nd.  They may not be PRs but it feels so good these days to pace myself and learn how to just run for fun with a little competitive edge.  Last year, I would come to these races with a plan to win.  I would start off crazy fast, hit a wall, and usually want to die by the last mile.  I may have had better times but it wasn’t worth it.  I think I stopped going after 3 weeks because that whole “feel like dying” thing was not really what I wanted to schedule into my Thursday evenings.  Now, I just start off with a solid pace, listen to my body, and start catching people if my body feels good.  And with some good pacing, it usually does!

I also raced a 20k on Labor Day weekend.  This race was a USATF certified race so I was racing for/with my team.  I had a long run planned for that day prior to signing up so I figured I would make the haul to Eastern, MA so I can get a long run in with people, represent my team and enjoy the time with my team.

imageWe also bought new uniforms that are black, pink and baby blue so of course, I was eager to rock some of my favorite colors.

So far this summer (and September), I have run 2 new PRs!! What is my strategy you ask??? JUST RUN DISTANCES YOU HAVE NEVER RUN BEFORE! ha ha. But seriously, it is a sure way to score yourself a new PR.

A couple additional things (I am scrolling through pictures on my phone to recap my last 2 months ha ha)

imageI bought a pair of Hokas because I just couldn’t resist the thought of how comfy they look despite the clown-shoe-like style.  I am not sure why I thought breaking them in on a 14 mile run was wise, but of course, that was exactly what I did.  They felt pretty good.  I was not in love, but I am starting to warm-up to them.

The weekend before school started, I went to Ithaca for a big family reunion/get-together with my boyfriend’s side of the family.  It was the absolute perfect way to end the summer.  Good BBQs, good people, good weather, and lots of fun and games.

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Quick food recap.  I bought the Oh She Glows cookbook and feel in love.  I learned how to make creamy sauce by simply blending cashews that have been soaked and almond milk.

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This dish was one of their curry dishes (we added the shrimp because it is a vegetarian cookbook) The sauce is simply curry, cashews and almond milk and it is mixed in with all sorts of delicious veggies.  I topped some zoodles with this concoction but some brown rice would be perfect. 

My mornings have consistently been delicious Greek yogurt and fruit bowls for the entire month.

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The key to a wonderful Greek yogurt bowl is some Purely Elizabeth Puffs + Granola.  I absolutely love granola but the sugar content is pretty high.  This cereal is primary puffs with some granola mixed in.  It is perfect because you get just enough granola with some puffs for the added crunch.

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I have also been a huge fan on zoodles (Zucchini spiralized into noodles)!

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My summer lunch was usually zoodles mixed with Cottage Cheese and Flavor God Pizza seasoning.

This summer was absolutely amazing and I am still on cloud nine from the marathon.  I want to do a fall marathon but I also just want to train and run while the weather is still nice without having a specific game plan.  I like having the choice to do what I want and not have to plan around events.  October is stacked with races and crossfit competitions.  Although a fall marathon sounds wonderful –  jumping in a bunch of different half marathons and some Crossfit competitions also sounds great.  My game plan is to increase my long run distance every weekend that I am free and if I can manage to get that 20 miler in with 2 weeks allowed for tapering, then we will see if there is something possible for early November.  But right now I just have my eyes set on some great runs, great Crossfit workouts, my Spartan Race next weekend and just taking the weekends to wind down.  🙂

I hope everyone has had a great summer! It is always sad to see it go, but I love working with my new group of students and am excited to implement some new things in my teaching!

That Evening Race Struggle and a NEW Long Run Record

Happy Tuesday!

I ended Thursday’s post about my road trip after work to New Hampshire for a 6:30 5k race.  The Hollis Fast 5k. Well fast for others, not so much for me.. When I told co-workers that I had to leave work a bit early because I had a “race in New Hampshire” on a Thursday evening, they looked at me like I was crazy.  And when I proceeded to say to tell them it was only a 5k, the judgement got stronger.  But I can’t disagree because IT IS CRAZY!  It was a USATF certified race so my running team was competing.  It is rare, very rare, that I would be down for traveling an hour and a half on a Thursday evening to race a 5k but when you have a great team that is committed to racing and the success of the team, along with a great car load of people to ride up with, it is worth it.  However, just because it was worth it, doesn’t mean it was easy.  It was pretty darn hard to muster to up the energy to just get my legs moving once we arrived let alone race!  I was waiting for adrenaline to kick in, but it wasn’t happening.  I was definitely nervous when I got to the start line.  I don’t know if it was because I knew my time mattered tremendously because I was racing for a team…or because there were so many tiny, fast runners  decked out in uniforms surrounding me which was quite intimidating..or because I knew that in minutes I would have to go full speed for 3 miles and my legs were not in the mood to do that.  I
think it was a mix of all three of those reasons but despite the nerves, as soon as that gun went off, I took off down the road…way too fast.  My first mile was a 5:43 and since my average mile time was 6:21, that only means one thing…

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.. I definitely started out too fast and hit a wall.  It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t entirely enjoyable, but it was over fast!  Though I didn’t have a PR, many of my teammates raced a PR!!

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The face says it all…don’t make me move fast, I just don’t wannnaa!

I also mentioned in my last post how I couldn’t stop smiling over my new long run record of 14.24 miles.  Well I have stopped smiling over that because I have something EVEN better…

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On Sunday I tackled 16 miles! I can’t believe I did it!  I am beyond proud of myself because this type of mileage is something I have feared for a long time and each week I am proving to myself that it can be done!  I have heard from many people that the key to surviving the long run is having a running buddy.  Well unfortunately, I do not have a running buddy for a couple of reasons.  I haven’t really ever wanted one.  Part of my love for running is the ability to just be alone, listen to music and just drift off into my own little world.  Of course there are those runs that are miserable and the only thing running through my mind is the seconds/miles remaining…but for the most part, my runs are usually peaceful and is my time where I can think through things and jam out to some great tunes.  I also have no interest in wasting the little breath I have on talking.  The thought of trying to hold a conversation with someone while gasping for air does not sound appealing, but is also my biggest problem. I don’t know how to slow down!  That being said, though I like my alone time during my runs, as the miles are creeping up, I am starting to realize that I do not need 16 miles worth of alone time.  I have been contemplating the idea of recruiting someone/people to run certain legs of my long run with me so that I can get my alone time in but can also have someone to distract me from those negative thoughts that start to arise around mile 13.  A couple of members from my Crossfit box told me that their club team was planning on a 6 mile run around a local reservoir on Sunday morning at 8:30.  THAT’S PERFECT! I can have 10 miles to myself and then jump in to group run to help me slow down my pace and motivate me through the final 6 miles.  It all sounded great but I wasn’t sure if it would all pan out the way I had vision in my head.

I had the morning all planned out before I went to bed.  If I wanted to make it to the group run by 8:30 with 10 miles already in the bag, I would have to leave the house by 7:10…making for a glorious 6:30 wake up call on Sunday morning.  My run started out fine, but I was noticing some tightness in my left calf from the race on Thursday.  The tightness was subsiding which resulted in me questioning this whole 16 miler.  I was convinced around mile 3 that this would end up just being a 6-10 miler.  Not bad, but  not what I had in mind.  But then around mile 4 my calf just slowly loosed and it all felt okay.  It was like the clouds parted and I had a burst of confidence. Dramatic, I know. I made it to the group run a little behind schedule but just in time and exactly 10 miles in!  I stopped to take a quick breather and get into their group huddle and before I knew it, I was back running and ready to tackle this final leg.  The pace was a bit slower, my music was put away and I was just enjoying the beautiful scenery of the reservoir and the conversation of the people around me. I ended up doing the final 6 miles with two older men whom I  never met before.  I still am not a huge fan of holding a conversation while running but it wasn’t horrible.  I actually think I enjoy running with people just to listen to other people’s conversations…slightly creepy but it’s interesting! Another 6 miles later, I broke off from the running group and ran home clocking a little over 16 miles! 🙂

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I write this with so much excitement and pride.  I can’t believe I am conquering mileage that I feared for so long…and it’s actually enjoyable!  I already have a 17 mile route planned out for this Sunday and maybe a partner who is willing to bike the final 6 with me! I am trying not to let my excitement get the best of me because I am well aware from past experiences that things can come up and throw a giant curve ball in your game plan.  I am doing everything I can to prevent any injuries or possible disturbances in my training by resting, taking care of my body and stretching every night.  I am incorporating yoga into my schedule in addition to running and Crossfit so that my body can remain flexible and loose despite the heavy lifting and running.  I can only hope that with proper care and nutrition, my training will continue to stay strong and I will make it to that finish line on July 26th!

Have a great rest of the week!…only one more week until summer vacation 🙂

Can’t wait to enoy more of this view..

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Hot Chocolate 5k Recap

Gosh, I can’t think of the last time I actually ran a 5k competitively…

..but today I did. AND GOT A PR – 19:17

I had this race on my calender for a while and though it’s just a local fun run, I thought I would take it seriously because I don’t have a solid 5k PR…and because I am competitive like that.  This past fall, I ran local Thursday night 5ks but I always just jumped into them after a morning workout or with those day-before-rest day tired legs.  My times were always OK and every mile was always a painful challenge.  Lets be honest, who wants to race on a Thursday night after a long day of work.

I didn’t actually train for this 5k, I just kept it in the back of mind and began incorporating a little speed in my daily training.  It wasn’t until the couple of days leading up to the race did I start getting all confused about the 5k training deal.  I wanted to have fresh legs at the start line, but I didn’t want to change up my usual training because realistically, it’s 3 miles.  That’s like mile 10-13 in a half-marathon, and I just kinda lump those 3 together and call them the painful and final push.  So to think of those 3 miles as being the WHOLE race..I figured I didn’t need much rest.  Thankfully, my rest days are Fridays so I took Friday off and Saturday was a nice 5 miler in the rain.

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I don’t know what it was about the run, but I weirdly enjoyed the rain beating on my face.  I wanted to keep going but I kept thinking about fresh legs at the start of the race.

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Nothing like re-fueling with eggs, fruit, peanut butter, and pumpkin seeds.

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Time to talk about the race!  Boy was it chilly, could have used that hot chocolate at the start rather than finish.  

I was a bit panicky about the whole getting to the start line, parking, what to wear situation. All I knew was that the race was BIG and the town is relatively small and tight with parking on a normal day so race day must be crazy.  I wasn’t meeting my team until 9:15 (race at 10) but of course, my race day nerves had me there at 8:15.  And of course, parking wasn’t an issue whatsoever and I ended up being a 4 minute walk to the start line. When will I learn that I ALWAYS make it to the start line. I do not need to stress.

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An early departure time called for an early breakfast so I made sure to get enough food in me to hold me over for 2 hours before the race.  Cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread, NuttZo and 1/2 banana did the trick!

As for my festive Christmas outfit….My team is known for having outrageous outfits so I felt compelled to wear something “fun”.  But the competitive side of me was saying “you can’t wear anything that will slow you down”… I know, so boring. SO  I decided that I would find an ugly sweater to wear over my race gear and then toss it right before the start.

Stay warm for the warm-up AND look festive.  BINGO.  

But of course, I waited until race morning to act on that plan. I called my wonderful mother race morning and asked if I could borrow one of her ugly sweaters…probably not the nicest phone call I have made, oops.  Thankfully she had a pretty great snowflake turtleneck.  I rolled the turtleneck all the way up so it basically covered everything up to my eyes.  It was wonderful and pretty darn ugly-looking. Gosh, I wish I took a picture.

After a casual stretch session in Dunkin Donuts, I met up with my team and set out for a windy warm-up run.  It was pretty cold and I was already ready to call it a day.  Not the attitude to have as you are walking to the start line. But before I could dwell any longer, the gun went off.  I had to look down to make sure my legs were moving because they got a little numb on me.  Great, They’re moving.  Good Start.

And then a giant gust of wind blew my headphones out of my ears so I quickly realized that the music thing just wasn’t gunna happen. Probably a good thing, I am usually the only one at the front of the start line with headphones.  Meb or Kara…can you wear headphones in just ONE race to make me feel like it is possible to be a top runner and still listen to music!?!

Mile 1 came up pretty fast, kinda like the wind on my face.  It was weird to think that after Mile 1 I only had 2 more miles to go.  I’m telling you!…running half marathons and then moving to a 5k is extremely awkward.  After mile 1, it was a pretty tough fight against the wind.  I started complaining in my head (kind of like I am now)  and then told myself “everyone is in this wind, not just you, stop being a baby”.  Isn’t it funny that our thoughts literally fight each other?? Or maybe I am just crazy…ha ha.  Once I reached mile 2, I just hit the ground running.  There was a nice hill that my cold legs did not like that very but they tackled it and from there it was that exciting, tired fight to the finish line.  The third place female was in sight but I just knew it wasn’t happening, and that is okay.  I will proudly take 4th female and a 19:17 finish.

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…And while others grabbed water, my frozen hands proudly grabbed a nice cup of hot chocolate..  Or was it a cup of marshmallows with a splash of hot chocolate?? 😉 Either way.  It was great.

The race was extremely well run and my team did amazing.  Not just on the course but with fundraising. We raised $6,810 for Safe Passage.  Safe passage helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence take steps toward a brighter future.

It was a great day with a great team for a great cause 🙂